The Best Colleges in Oregon

With mountains, lakes, and everything in between, Oregon captures the four seasons in a picturesque manner. There are abundant things to do, and students can enjoy the indoor or outdoor life. After being in class, take advantage of all that Oregon has to offer. Take part in activities such as windsurfing, skiing, and hiking, or enjoy the myriad of events, art, music, and coffee shops.

We reviewed dozens of schools in Oregon to identify the best of the best. We looked at academic programs, campus size, student enrollment, athletics, and clubs and organizations to determine the best colleges in Oregon. Furthermore, we checked out both 2-year and 4-year schools, and of course, took note of tuition prices.

Top Pick
University of Portland

The University of Portland excels in academics, athletics, and campus life with 15 graduate schools, awards in sports, and nearly 100 student organizations.

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We chose the University of Portland as our top pick for the best colleges in Oregon. This private Catholic school offers top-notch academics, athletics, and campus life. The school sits on more than 100 acres and enrolls more than 4,000 students.

The 5 Top-Rated Schools in Oregon

Editor's PicksBrandRating
Best OverallUniversity of Portland 3.5
Runner UpUniversity of Oregon
3.5
Best ValueOregon Institute of Technology3.5
Best Student LifeLewis & Clark College3.5
Best AthleticsOregon State University 3.5

*Ratings are from Niche.com at the time of publication and can change

Our Top Pick: University of Portland

The University of Portland is a hop, skip, and jump from the heart of the city, where students can find the next big thing to do. The university offers five different schools, including business, nursing, and engineering, and a wide array of undergraduate and graduate academic programs. U.S. News & World Report ranked this school No. 2 for the best college in the Regional Universities West category.

Academics extend beyond the classroom. Students can get involved with the academic centers and special programs. The University of Portland provides students with centers such as the Franz Center for Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation, Garaventa Center for Catholic Intellectual Life and American Culture, and STEM Center. Other programs are available, such as study abroad, ROTC, and honors.

The University of Portland is a Division I school for competitive team sports. It also offers recreational fitness, club sports, and intramural sports. With more than 90 clubs and organizations, students have a range of choices for life outside the classroom. Yearly tuition, including fees, is roughly $47,800. Those who receive financial aid might expect to see the cost average $35,000 per year for tuition and fees.

University of Portland Key Features:

  • Enrollment for undergraduates is roughly 3,800 students
  • Campus sits on 108 acres
  • Private Catholic school
  • Division I sports teams
  • Named in the top 25 STEM colleges by Forbes

Our Runner Up Pick: University of Oregon

Runner Up
University of Oregon

The University of Oregon offers students more than 300 academic programs in nine different schools, including business, law, education, design, and music and dance.

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The University of Oregon won our second place spot for the best colleges in Oregon. Campus resides in the artsy town of Eugene where students can immerse themselves in culture outside the classroom. The university offers nine schools to take classes from, including journalism, law, education, and design. With 325 academic programs to pick from, the University of Oregon is the number one public university in Oregon.

The most popular majors include business, biology, journalism, economics, and architecture. Faculty includes a Nobel Prize winner, a few Pulitzer Prize winners, and a handful of National Academy of Sciences members. Alumni includes governors, senators, and U.S. representatives. Students have access to academic programs such as study abroad, the Teaching and Learning Center, Mills International Center, and Center for Multicultural Academic Excellence.

Campus life is busy with the option of more than 250 clubs and organizations to join. Students can keep active with Division I sports, intramural sports, or by using the recreational center. There’s a myriad of things to do on campus, such as Greek life, student government, or art and culture. Yearly tuition and fees are about $12,700.

University of Oregon Key Features:

  • Enrollment for undergraduates averages about 19,100 students
  • Campus is situated on 295 acres
  • Division I sports teams
  • Approximately 30 fraternities and sororities
  • Named in the top 20 coolest schools by the Sierra Club

Best Value College: Oregon Institute of Technology

Best Value
Oregon Institute of Technology

Oregon Institute of Technology has received high accolades for its progressive studies in renewable energy, and is highly ranked in the field of engineering and technology.

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Oregon Institute of Technology earned the best value college in Oregon. Not only is it a more budget-friendly school, it sees 97 percent of its graduates employed or in graduate school within six months after graduation. The institute follows a “hands-on education” so students are well prepared to enter the workforce after graduation.

Oregon Institute of Technology offers an array of degree programs, such as accounting, cybersecurity, echocardiography, engineering, nuclear medicine technology, mathematics, and psychology. It provides a range of topics for graduate work as well, including civil engineering, renewable energy engineering, applied behavior analysis, and allied health. Other academic offerings are acceptance in to the honors program based on qualifying scores, and participating in studying abroad.

But academics are not the only reason this school wins best value. Oregon Institute of Technology has a myriad of athletic facilities. Students can join a Division II sports team, intramural sports, or use the fitness center to keep in shape. There are many clubs, organizations, activities, and events to partake in, such as student government, Greek life, academic societies, and cultural groups. Tuition and fees for a year cost about $10,000 for in-state students.

Oregon Institute of Technology Key Features:

  • Enrollment for undergraduates is approximately 5,200 students
  • Division II sports teams
  • Campus resides in a rural setting on 305 acres
  • Dozens of clubs and organizations
  • Outdoor activities include deep-sea fishing, skydiving, and snowboarding

Best College for Student Life: Lewis & Clark College

Best Student Life
Lewis & Clark College

Lewis & Clark College offers a busy student life on campus with an extensive list of clubs, activities, events, and organizations.

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The best college in Oregon for student life is Lewis & Clark College in Portland. With more than 70 percent of students living on campus, there is no shortage of things to do when you’re not in class. Though there are 100 clubs and organizations to check out, Lewis & Clark also offers an outdoor program where you can hike, kayak, ski, and have fun with whitewater sports. If you’re not into the outdoors, this school has Division III sports teams, a weight room, fitness center, swimming pool, tennis court, and more.

Much of what happens outside the class is academic related as well. Students have the option of joining academic organizations such as the art, physics, psychology, and philosophy club. A number of media programs, international clubs, student activities, campus events, and mentorship programs are at your fingertips. Likewise, the heart of Portland is moments away via a free shuttle ride.

But there’s more to college life than activities and organizations. Lewis & Clark College has almost 30 academic programs, offering popular subjects like psychology, biology, language, and sociology. Ninety-seven percent of students become employed, continue on with school, or volunteer within six months after graduation. Yearly tuition and fees are around $52,780, and $34,800 after financial aid.

Lewis & Clark College Key Features:

  • Enrollment for undergraduates is around 2,090 students
  • Campus size is 134 acres
  • More than 70 percent of students live on campus
  • 100 registered clubs and organizations
  • Division III sports teams

Best College for Athletics: Oregon State University

Best Athletics
Oregon State University

Oregon State University is a Division I school in team sports, and has seen 70 of its alumni go on to the Olympics, with 22 earning medals.

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If you’re looking for the best college athletics that Oregon has, look no further than Oregon State University to fit that bill. With 111 years of Olympic history, student-athletes to come out of this university achieve high honors in all areas. In the last 35 years, 35 alumni went on to the Olympics, while eight of them won medals, including gold.

Emphasis is not just on the sport, but also on the athlete. The university offers The Everyday Champions program to help student-athletes reach their academic goals while giving it all they got on the field. The program is comprised of groups, clubs, events, and workshops to aid the student-athlete throughout their college career.

Recreational sports is also a big deal at this school. With many fitness facilities to choose from and an array of fitness classes to be had, Oregon State University emphasizes the well-rounded student. There’s even the Adventure Leadership Institute, which offers up a slew of ways to be physically active. Students can take fitness classes for credit, go on outings, or join the Adventure Club.

Oregon State University has 11 schools, and more than 200 undergraduate and 100 graduate degree programs. Students can choose from schools such as business, education, forestry, pharmacy, science, and veterinary medicine. High-achieving students can apply to the Honors College, a unique degree-granting honors program. Yearly tuition and fees are $11,700 for in-state students.

Oregon State University Key Features:

  • Enrollment for undergraduates equates to about 25,700 students
  • Campus is in the city on 422 acres
  • Hundreds of clubs and organizations
  • Prolific Greek life
  • Ranked high for computer science and engineering

Who Should Attend College in Oregon

Oregon has a lot going for it, including the college life. Portland is busting with exciting activities for college students. Popular spots include Saturday Market, Japanese Garden, Alberta Street, Cathedral Park, and St. John’s food cart pod. Foodies flock to the state for the handcraft beers, sustainable seafood, exotic mushrooms, and culinary experiences. And what college student isn’t always hungry?

Oregon is known for its outdoor life, just as much as it’s known for the food. Enjoy camping, hiking, water skiing, kayaking, snowboarding and backpacking. Oregon is full of culture, too, with its quirky nature, innovative ideas, and cutting edge music.

If you’re moving to a college town, then you won’t want to miss Life At College: 5 Keys To Finding Your Perfect College Town Apartment.

Top Pick
University of Portland

The University of Portland excels in academics, athletics, and campus life with 15 graduate schools, awards in sports, and nearly 100 student organizations.

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Important Features to Consider

A college or university should have a few important features. Here’s what to consider when selecting a college or university to attend:

  • Campus size and location. Where you go to college can make a big difference in your college experience. Whether you choose a school close to home or far away, the type of setting the campus resides in will matter. Consider the environment and weather where the college is located. Think about whether campus is small or large, rural or urban. Large universities may have all of the clubs and organizations you are looking for, but class size might be larger than you hoped. On the flip side, a small college may not have athletics, but the class size is much more intimate.
  • Academic programs and degrees. The whole reason you’re headed to college is to enhance your education and better your life. If you’re unsure what you want to major in, take the time to read over the academic programs being offered. Check out other academic activities that might aid in your path or help you to achieve your educational goals.
  • Athletics and fitness programs. A healthy mind needs a healthy body. Exercise and physical activity can strengthen your brain muscle as well as your other muscles. If you’re an athlete wanting to play on a sports team, you might want to see if a college has an athletics department, sports clubs, or intramural sports. Another point to consider is access to a gym or fitness center.
  • Clubs, organizations, and student activities. When looking into college, it’s not just classes that you want to check out. There’s more to life on campus than your class load. Clubs, organizations, and activities are the best way to meet friends and get involved in the community. Check the clubs and organizations listing for colleges to see if they have any you might be interested in.
  • Cost and financial aid. Unless you’re sitting on millions, chances are the cost of college may be your driving force on where to attend. While you’re looking at the price of tuition, consider what you’re paying for – the different amenities a college might have, the athletics department, what academic programs are offered, academic buildings, libraries, resources, etc. that will contribute to your college education. Look into what financial aid, scholarships, or grants might be available.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many colleges are in Oregon?

There are a total of 91 colleges in Oregon – 67 of which are private colleges, 7 of which are public universities, and 17 of which are community colleges.

Does Oregon have good schools?

Many of the top Oregon colleges have won awards or turned out Olympians, senators, Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize winners, and other distinguished alumni. Portland has some of the best colleges in Oregon.

What is the cheapest college in Oregon?

Colleges and universities often break down their costs in different ways. Some colleges list pricing per credit, semester, or school year, all of which can make one school seem cheaper over another. It’s important to factor the total cost of tuition and fees.

The most affordable 4-year college in Oregon is Eastern Oregon University, with a yearly tuition of $9,100, which includes fees. Financial and grant aid is available.

The most affordable 2-year college in Oregon is Tillamook Bay Community College at roughly $1,740 for yearly tuition and fees. Financial aid is also available.

What is Oregon State college known for?

Oregon State University – our pick for best colleges for athletics – is well known for being the state’s largest public research university. It is also known for its forestry, marine sciences, and robotics engineering programs. And of course, for its great athletic department.

Other Colleges in Oregon We Reviewed

Top Pick
University of Portland

The University of Portland excels in academics, athletics, and campus life with 15 graduate schools, awards in sports, and nearly 100 student organizations.

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We looked at 20 other colleges and universities in Oregon. Even though they didn’t make our 5 best colleges in Oregon list, they’re the best of the rest, and still great options. The information you need to compare each school is listed below.

Small Colleges in Oregon

Multnomah University

Multnomah University

Multnomah University is a small private institution steeped in Biblical teachings. This school offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs, as well as seminary degrees.

Key Features:

  • Enrollment for undergraduates is around 400 students
  • Division II sports teams
  • Study abroad programs

Cost: $24,700 per year for tuition and fees

Northwest Christian University

Northwest Christian University

Northwest Christian University offers numerous areas of study, but the most popular are teacher education, business administration, psychology, and exercise science.

Key Features:

  • Enrollment for undergraduates is about 600 students
  • Division II sports teams
  • Campus life includes campus ministry, student government, performing arts, and other organizations

Cost: $31,400 per year for tuition and fees, $19,300 after financial aid

Pacific Northwest College of Art

Pacific Northwest College of Art

Pacific Northwest College of Art is an art and design school that offers 11 Bachelor of Fine Art degrees and eight graduate degrees. Subjects include animated arts, creative writing, painting, sculpture, and video.

Key Features:

  • Enrollment for undergraduates is roughly 500 students
  • Student-teacher ratio is 9:1
  • Multiple clubs, organizations, and activities available

Cost: $40,000 per year for tuition and fees

Pioneer Pacific College

Pioneer Pacific College

Pioneer Pacific College is a small for-profit institution that focuses on business, healthcare, legal studies, and the culinary arts. It offers accelerated programs for all levels of degrees.

Key Features:

  • Enrollment for undergraduates equates to approximately 700 students
  • Three campus locations
  • Career services and online access are available

Cost: $58,000 per year for tuition and fees, $22,000 after financial aid

Warner Pacific University

Warner Pacific College

Warner Pacific University is a very small school with a student-teacher ratio of 9:1. Subjects of study include human sciences, business, and social services.

Key Features:

  • Enrollment for undergraduates equals roughly 400 students
  • Private Christian college
  • Division II sports teams

Cost: $18,700 per year for tuition and fees

Colleges in Oregon Under $10K

Eastern Oregon University

Eastern Oregon University

Eastern Oregon University provides numerous areas of study for students to participate in. It is also shares in study abroad programs.

Key Features:

  • Enrollment for undergraduates makes up about 2,750 students
  • Campus sits on 110 acres in a rural setting
  • Division II sports teams

Cost: $9,100 per year for tuition and fees for in-state

Portland State University

Portland State University

Located in downtown Portland, Portland State University has a number of different schools, including business, engineering, computer science, and education.

Key Features:

  • Enrollment for undergraduates equals approximately 21,000 students
  • More than 100 clubs and organizations
  • Division I sports teams

Cost: $9,600 per year for tuition and fees for in-state

Southern Oregon University

Southern Oregon University

Southern Oregon University has many undergraduate and graduate degree programs, such as teaching, nursing, music, science, and business.

Key Features:

  • Enrollment for undergraduates averages 5,250 students
  • Campus is situated on 175 acres in the city
  • More than 50 clubs and organizations

Cost: $9,600 per year for tuition and fees for in-state

Western Oregon University

Western Oregon University

Western Oregon University offers numerous areas of study, and an array of clubs and organizations. The most popular subjects are business, marketing, education, and psychology.

Key Features:

  • Enrollment for undergraduates is around 4,650 students
  • Division II sports teams
  • Campus is situated on 157 acres in a rural setting

Cost: $9,500 per year for tuition and fees for in-state

Colleges in Oregon Between $20K and $39K

Concordia University

Concordia University

Concordia University offers 15 academic programs for undergraduates and three graduate programs: law, education, and management. Campus life includes student government, organizations, sports clubs, and daily worship.

Key Features:

  • Enrollment for undergraduates is around 1,600 students
  • Division II sports teams
  • Private Christian college

Cost: $31,600 per year for tuition and fees, $22,000 after financial aid

Corban University

Corban University

Corban University sits on 220 acres and provides students with more than 50 academic programs. Popular areas of study include education, psychology, and business.

Key Features:

  • Enrollment for undergraduates averages 1,000 students
  • Division I sports teams
  • Private Christian university

Cost: $33,380 per year for tuition and fees, $24,500 after financial aid

George Fox University

George Fox University

George Fox University provides more than 90 majors and minors for students to choose from. The more popular subjects are business administration, nursing, education, and engineering.

Key Features:

  • Enrollment for undergraduates averages 2,700 students
  • Division III sports teams
  • Private Christian university

Cost: $37,300 per year for tuition and fees, $28,370 after financial aid

Oregon Health and Science University

Oregon Health and Science University

Oregon Health and Science University offers five schools with more than 80 academic programs. Choose from dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and public health.

Key Features:

  • Enrollment for all degree programs is about 4,700 students
  • Campus includes two hospitals
  • Campus includes research centers and institutes

Cost: $24,350 per year for tuition and fees for in-state

Colleges in Oregon Over $40K

Linfield College

Linfield College

Linfield College is a small private school that offers programs such as business, marketing, management, and social sciences. Campus sits on 189 acres, nestled in a rural setting.

Key Features:

  • Enrollment for undergraduates equals roughly 1,375 students
  • Division III athletics
  • Student-teacher ratio is 9:1

Cost: $44,100 per year for tuition and fees, $27,250 after financial aid

Pacific University

Pacific University

Pacific University has multiple academic programs to choose from, such as business, education, optometry, and health professions. Students are also able to study abroad.

Key Features:

  • Enrollment for undergraduates comprises of roughly 1,900 students
  • Division III sports teams
  • Multiple clubs and organizations, including Greek life

Cost: $46,400 per year for tuition and fees, $30,000 after financial aid

Reed College

Reed College

Reed College operates a little differently than most colleges, but has a wide range of course studies. Students can participate in dual degree programs with neighboring colleges.

Key Features:

  • Enrollment for undergraduates equates to around 1,400 students
  • Student-teacher ratio is 10:1
  • Plenty of clubs, organizations, and fitness activities

Cost: $58,400 per year for tuition and fees, $32,000 after financial aid

Willamette University

Willamette University

Willamette University may be small, but it offers numerous areas of study, including the oldest law school in the Pacific Northwest. Popular subjects to major in are social, physical, biological, and biomedical sciences.

Key Features:

  • Enrollment for undergraduates is about 1,800 students
  • More than 100 clubs and organizations, including Greek life
  • Study abroad programs

Cost: $52,100 per year for tuition and fees, $28,300 after financial aid

Two-Year Colleges in Oregon

Linn-Benton Community College

Linn-Benton Community College

Linn-Benton Community College has more than 85 academic programs to choose from. Subjects to study include agriculture, business, culinary, and arts and humanities.

Key Features:

  • Enrollment for undergraduates averages 2,700 students
  • Multiple clubs, organizations, and activities available, including athletic programs, performing arts, and career services
  • Three eateries on campus

Cost: $1,830 per year for tuition and fees for in-state

Sumner College

Sumner College

Sumner College is a medical school offering academic programs in practical nursing and an Associate Degree in nursing.

Key Features:

  • Enrollment for undergraduates is approximately 300 students
  • Financial aid and scholarships are available
  • Nursing programs are accredited

Cost: $47,000 per year for tuition and fees for AD, $27,400 for practical nursing

Treasure Valley Community College

Treasure Valley Community College

Treasure Valley Community College offers more than 80 academic programs to pick from.

Key Features:

  • Total enrollment averages 3,000 students
  • Campus sits on 90 acres in a rural setting
  • Online courses available

Cost: $1,875 per year for tuition and fees for in-state

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